Emerging class of omega-3 fatty acid endocannabinoids & their derivatives

Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat. 2019 Aug;143:106337. doi: 10.1016/j.prostaglandins.2019.106337. Epub 2019 May 11.


Cannabinoid receptor activation is involved in homeostatic regulation of the body. These receptors are activated by cannabinoids, that include the active constituents of Cannabis sativa, as well as endocannabinoids (eCBs). The eCBs are endogenously synthesized from the omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The consumption of omega-3 fatty acids shifts the balance towards a higher proportion of omega-3 eCBs, whose physiological functions warrants further investigation. Herein, we review the discovery of omega-3 fatty acid derived eCBs that are generated from long chain omega-3 PUFAs - docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide (DHA-EA or synaptamide), docosahexanoyl-glycerol (DHG), eicosapentaenoyl ethanolamide (EPA-EA) and eicosapentanoylglycerol (EPG). Furthermore, we outline the lesser known omega-3 eCB-like molecules that arise from the conjugation of omega-3 fatty acids with neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine - DHA-serotonin (DHA-5HT), DHA-dopamine (DHA-DA), EPA-serotonin (EPA-5HT) and EPA-dopamine (EPA-DA). Additionally, we describe the role of omega-3 eCBs and their derivatives in different disease states, such as pain, inflammation and cancer. Moreover, we detail the formation and potential physiological roles of the oxidative metabolites that arise from the metabolism of omega-3 eCBs by eicosanoid synthesizing enzymes - cyclooxygenase (COX), lipoxygenase (LOX) and cytochrome P450 epoxygenase (CYP450). In summary, we outline the novel findings regarding a growing class of signaling molecules that can control the physiological and pathophysiological processes in the body.

Keywords: Cancer; Endocannabinoids; Inflammation; Metabolism; Omega-3 fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Endocannabinoids / chemistry*
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Serotonin / metabolism


  • Endocannabinoids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine